Members of the Rochester City Council this afternoon expressed some frustration that the new Police Accountability Board isn't up and running yet. PAB staff say it's likely to be six weeks or more more before that happens, because a crucial contract has not yet been signed.
City Council Member Michael Patterson pressed agency head Conor Dwyer Reyolds on when it would begin accepting and investigating complaints of police misconduct, asking if the PAB would be receiving and investigating complaints by the end of May. Reynolds answered "yes."
PAB staff says they've been delayed in starting operations for two major reasons: most hiring for the board was only approved in February, and a critical contract approved by City Council has not yet been signed by Mayor Malik Evans. That contract is for the PAB's confidential case management system that will record complaints and schedule investigations. Staff says it will take six weeks to set up, and Reynolds says they only have one chance to get it right. When pressed by several councilmembers to begin operations with a paper system if it's computer networks can't be ready for weeks yet, Reynolds said the case management system is absolutely critical to the new board's plan of operations.
Reynolds says he's been in touch with several people who are afraid to report against Rochester police without an absolute guarantee of confidentiality. He says any breach will destroy faith in the PAB and City Government forever.
PAB Operations Manager Rosabel Antonetti said the board is accepting phone calls and emails, but not yet accepting complaints for investigation.